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What do I want my daughter to know when she grows up?
I want her to know that she CAN do hard things, that she was MADE FOR BRAVE. 💪🏼
I want her to respect what her body can do; to TAKE CARE of that body because she CAN & not because she has to. 💕
I want her to KNOW deep down in her soul that she is LOVED & that “BEING LOVED BY GOD” is the only thing that TRULY defines her. 🙏🏼
I want her to SEE her momma & all she’s been through & know that she is CAPABLE of thriving instead of just surviving even the worst of storms. ☔️
I KNOW that Courage. Faith. Hope. &&& most of all… LOVE. will ALWAYS be hers.
I only PRAY that she KNOWS it & NEVER EVER FORGETS. ❤
(And, to each & every Momma reading this: I pray you know the same things about you, too. Courage, faith, hope & love are yours. You just have to remember to use them! 😘)
I felt alone in my last miscarriage.
Because I didn’t really tell anyone until it was all over.
The doctor said it happened to 25% of all pregnancies. Then how come I didn’t know many who had faced it?!
It felt like it had happened to NOBODY but me. COMPLETE ISOLATION.
But, after I finally opened up to people about it, I discovered so many other families had gone through this too.
So, this time, I’m not gonna hide. I’m gonna share where I’m at. Not necessarily so that *I* don’t feel alone but so others can see that they aren’t either.
People see my happy posts and sometimes I get messages of people saying they wish they had my life. Cracks me up. I’ve got sucky things in my life always, too. Believe me. Many, in fact. I just normally focus on the good. But right now, I’m gonna share a BAD that I’m in the middle of.
Right now: my worst thing?
I’m having a miscarriage.
I’ve lost one baby before. Nick (my first and late husband) and I had a miscarriage and it was horrible. Now, with my second hubby Jay, just four months into our marriage, we’ve lost one too and it hurts just as much.
My heart is in an entirely different place this time though.
Not because God’s taken everything from me… again. But, because He is everything TO me.
I’m not quite as confused. Not because I understand WHY things like this happen. (I don’t!!) But, because I KNOW that He has a plan and that it is better than mine.
I’m sad, disappointed, heartbroken but still JOYFUL. How can that be? I think happiness is a feeling but JOY is a state of mind. And, for me… these last few years, since I really found HIM, I’ve honestly found that my JOY won’t ever be shaken. No matter what I face. My joy can’t be twisted or buried or drowned.
Because it’s anchored in a foundation that’s indestructible.
I know He hears me.
I know He sees me.
I know His plans are for me.
I trust HIS plan and HIS timing more than I trust my own feelings and guesses at what might be best.
I’ve lost two babies.
I’ve lost my first husband.
But, I will NEVER lose my joy.
This is my second miscarriage. And it hurts as much as the first.
But, my heart is in an entirely different place this time. It’s almost like it’s been made new. In fact, it kind of has. Sure, it’s been broken, but it’s been broken a few times before. And every time it breaks, it comes back together, the cracks remain but they’re healed. Like scars that have allowed openness, stretching and growth.
Every time my heart breaks, I choose to open it up again.
Not because He’s taken everything from me.
But because He IS everything to me. 💓
Happy Birthday, my love, my friend.
I miss you.
Today, your daughter sat snug in my lap while we watched morning cartoons. We were 30 min away from having to leave and I was still in my pajamas, breakfast uneaten, makeup not done… But I couldn’t get up. Because, as I do many days, I was SOAKING her up.
Every so often, in between her crunching and munching on apples, our 3-year-old tilts her head back far and looks up at me. Her eyes sparkle and a grin spreads across her face. Oh, how that grin reminds me of you.
This is the third year that we are celebrating your birthday without you here. That seems impossible, for two reasons. 1. How could it be 3 years? On one hand, it feels like you were here yesterday! And, 2. How could it be ONLY 3 years? I’ve lived a lifetimes since I last saw your face.
Things have changed around here. Your girls have moved 4 times since you left, we’ve crossed from one side of the country to the other; twice. We’ve adopted a new man into our little family and we are working hard to make it the best little patched-up glorious family that we can.
Almost all the furniture is different. My style has changed a bit and I gravitate so much more to the things that I love instead of the things people always told me I should.
I do still decorate for all the little holidays. The fall stuff is up now. I remember how you always told me how much you loved that I did that. Back when we were dating and I lived in that tiny apartment, I remember how enamored you were that I decorated. At the time, I thought it was silly. But, now, I love how much you loved it. I love that you noticed and smiled that I took the time and spent the money to get dollar store autumn leaves on the window, because it made me happy inside.
I’m so different now, too. Not just where we live. As a person, I am different entirely. I’m not sure you would recognize this soul so well. It’s old now. Weathered and strong. I’m BRAVER now than ever before. I’m not scared of anything. Literally. Isn’t that crazy? Remember when I told you that I wouldn’t be able to live without you? I told you (and believed) that if you died, I would die. But, you swore to me I wouldn’t.
You said I was stronger than I thought. That God would carry me through. That our little babe needed me.
I cried then, in your arms, imagining the nightmare that loomed ahead and wishing with all my being that we could switch places. Oh, how I longed to switch places with you.
It’s crazy now, looking at what you said. That I would be okay. You said it with such confidence. How did you know? You knew that you knew. And I had NO idea. I truly think that ONLY God could have helped you see and given you that peace. It was ALL true. Now, I see what you saw then.
I think, I kept on living at first mainly because, I took a long, hard look at your short life and figured that… You wanted to live SO BAD and you didn’t get to. So, I better truly LIVE my days out in your honor. Not surviving, but thriving. Not wallowing, but celebrating. Not wishing I was dead, but creating a life I WANTED.
Like you always said He would, God came near during the darkest times. That day they told us your cancer was back and I collapsed to the floor, clutching the new life in my stomach as if I could somehow protect her from those words. That day 3 years ago, almost to the date, that you started hospice when your eyes were glazed over from the pain and yet you still breathed the word “blessed.” That day that they came and took you away and your hospice bed lay empty, all of you GONE in a single day.
In the end looking days like today straight in the face, can be hard for me. Only because I wish that maybe, as some sort of birthday miracle, you could come down and give me a little sign. But, I know how selfish that is. I’m lucky enough to have seen signs of you often and feel your love settling down on us every single day. Like gently falling snow, you are here.
It’s different now. But, our love is the same. It’s different now. But, you’re smile graces my presence every day. It’s different now, but somehow, it’s all okay.
It’s been 5 years since I celebrated a HEALTHY birthday of yours with you. 5 long years. And, though, the many healthy happy birthdays spent with you were FUN, none of them actually compare to all of these since. Because, once you got sick. EVERYTHING became clearer than it’s ever been.
God opened up my eyes to LIFE because of YOUR life. He showed me what being grateful truly meant. That life is so much more about living for people, for love, for hopes and dreams than it is living for money, or boats, or houses, retirement or things.
Your love, our love, has wings.
I’m so grateful I get to see it fly.
Happy 30th, Nicholas. Forever and a day.
I’ve definitely experienced periods in my life where I didn’t feel like I knew which way God wanted me to go. Where I felt like God wasn’t really giving me direction and I didn’t know what His will was. But, none of those periods were quite as QUIET as when I lived in Florida.
I had felt a tugging to move to Pensacola…. a tiny beach town on the Gulf of Mexico, and I hadn’t known WHY, really. I knew God wanted me there, I had made a few friends in the area, had spent a month vacationing there, had a little crush on a local, but none of THAT constituted a move. I mean it was BEAUTIFUL there too, but NOT like Washington-beautiful.
I didn’t know the answer but I KNEW I had to answer the call anyway. My husband, the love of my life, and my baby daddy, had passed just a year before, I would have to sell the house and uproot my one year old and, as a SINGLE WIDOWED Mom, trek across the country, THOUSANDS of miles away from my family and all reliable babysitters.
It didn’t make sense. It was nuts. My friends and family (most of them) didn’t really get it, but I shrugged my shoulders and told them, “Neither do I. I just know I have to go.”
When I started making plans, God moved in big ways, assuring me that He wanted me down there. I had an offer on my house for ABOVE asking within five days of listing it. I found a moving company within my budget quickly and felt ok trusting them with all my stuff. A town house the PERFECT size for Austyn and I basically fell into my lap that was just minutes from the beach. And, I secured new contracts with local Pensacola businesses in a matter of weeks.
When God gives you marching orders and you follow, He sure will make sure your path is straight.
So, I went through 45 days of hustle and got everything set… Flew across the country, settled in, found a part timeChristian pre-preschool for Austyn for while I worked, I went to markets, I dated that local, I joined a gym, I raised my baby girl, I made some great friends… and then, the rest of the time, I prayed a TON.
“What now, God?”
My question seemed to go unanswered, for so long.
“Helllllooooo? YOU brought me down here. What do you want me to do?”
Finally, one day, I got it. “Be still.”
“That’s it?! Really. Move across the country… and then…. Do NOTHING?!”
At first I felt cheated. And confused. Like why?? But, then I decided just to listen and do what He asked. Because, in my experience, even when it doesn’t make sense in the moment, God always makes sense later. So, I stilled. I worked on me and on work and on Austyn but other than that, I was still, UN-PLANNING (which is so UNLIKE me).
So, for months, there was:
NO moving forward with my book like I was planning.
NO direction or heading for my relationship with my then-boyfriend-now-ex.
NO direction on my career, which I knew would be more than just a writer.
NO planning of a family or a house or a future.
Just, me. Still. Waiting. Listening.
Waiting is hard. I kind of hate it. But I did my best to do it anyway. And to stay grateful in the waiting. I prayed. And did my best each day to listen.
EVENTUALLY, piece-by-piece He revealed a bit of the next steps for His plan. But ONLY one step at a time. I couldn’t see the whole staircase, as they say.
First step was to break it off with the local which was so scary, especially because he was one of the only people I had come to know in Fl and also because my heart was still so very fragile from losing Nick.
Months later, it was a direction to move home. To give up the life I had just finally gotten used to, the white sand beached and the salty air. The best friend who lives just a few miles away….. Just up and pack AGAIN.
And, revealing the next step in my career path didn’t even come for almost a YEAR after that.
I think, in the end, following Gods will is all about TRUST. It’s about taking it a step at a time. A day at a time. And trusting, that, in th is end, HOW He’s leading will all make sense in the end.
Sometimes that means quitting something even when we don’t see where we are going to next.
Sometimes it means resting where we are without even attempting to plan the future.
Sometimes it means starting something new.
But only you can know what God is speaking to your heart.
Continue to pray, read His word, and TRUST that HE can figure it all out for you. One step and one day at a time.
Oh, and now, looking back on my time in Florida…. I can see SO MANY REASONS for my time there. SOOOOOO MANY.
MOST IMPORTANTLY: I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the time spent on, what felt like, the other side of the world. My trust in God and my dependence on Him wouldn’t be as strong. My confidence in myself and appreciation for silence wouldn’t be so ingrained. And I might not have this thick skin that formed from following God even when everyone else thought I was whacko.
NONE of those reasons were apparent to me BEFORE I moved there or even immediately upon returning to Seattle. Funny, isn’t it, what God and Time can reveal to us, when we give them the room to not make sense?
Oh, but I’ve lived through some scary days in my short 28 years, but I’ve found SO MUCH TRUTH in exactly what this quote says.
Nothing stings worse than regret.
ANYTIME that God has put something on my heart and I’ve turned the other way, pretending not to hear His call, I’ve regretted it. HARD.
So, I stopped turning away from Him as best I could and, each time, risked looking a bit like a fool. In the end, GOD CAME THROUGH, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
In 2007, I dumped my long time high school boyfriend when, a guy I barely knew, came back into my life asking for another chance (only to realize that very guy was my very soul and a perfect mate).
In 2008, I said “Yes” to a proposal at 20 years old, before we had lived together or slept together. The world thought we were crazy (only to be utterly grateful and find that His “crazy” way of living is exactly how God intended). <3 PS… Happy 8 Year Would-be-versary, Nicholas… We had it good, love. We were so blessed. We ARE SO blessed, even now, huh? We HAVE it good. <3
In 2011, I sat by my husband and planned a trip to meet with a rare cancer specialist though we had no money in the bank as we had just bought our first house (only to get a call an hour later from someone who wanted to give us their airline miles, which covered every cent of those last minute flights).
In 2012, I quit a job with my husband in remission and me, 9 weeks pregnant (only to find God had a better one lined up for me, where I could work from home. Just so happens that Nick’s cancer came back with a vengeance three months after that job change and I was able to take care of him AND work. GOD. SEND.)
In 2012, I asked for time off when our money had all but run out, with a mortgage to pay and medical bills stacked higher than a chimney (only to be told that ANY and ALL time off that I needed would be PAID, in full, though I had accrued no PTO to spend).
In 2013, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, her life thrived while my husband’s disappeared before my eyes. And yet I FOUGHT my instincts and chose to trust Him anyway (only to find, later on, that He really was worth trusting all along).
In 2014, I walked my 9 month old daughter down the aisle of a church at my husband’s funeral and I smiled and I laughed (only because I KNEW that I could still find a reason to smile, even though it felt as though life had been torn from me).
In 2014, I moved across the country, to Florida when He called me there with my 1.5 year old little girl, 5,000 miles away from my friends and family (only to realize that I needed this time to myself to figure out who I was AFTER loss, that I could be a good single mom, and to come closer to my God).
And, in 2016, with many mistakes behind me but fewer regrets than before, I said “Yes” on the alter to a man who people exclaimed “I had only dated for a year!” (Only to find that peace that surpasses understanding, that I knew THIS MAN was made to be my *second first*.)
The list goes on and on and on… And I *also* have a list of times I’ve turned my back on what God whispered to my heart… That one isn’t as pretty. I’ve found that following a God who whispers to your soul, even when it seems like a crazy bunch of nutso is ALWAYS, ALWAYS worth it. Because sometimes the LOUDEST plan isn’t the RIGHT one.
God’s plan DOESNT always make sense. And, often, He will ask us to take a step, even when we might be close to THE LEDGE. He asks us to step out, NOT BECAUSE ITS SAFE but because HE IS THERE.
You can be COMFORTABLE or you can be COURAGEOUS.
BUT YOU CANNOT BE BOTH. ❤️
Sooo DANG GRATEFUL for the people in my life who have spoken into me, believed in Gods direction for my life, followed Gods direction on their own, and held their tongues if they ever thought me a fool. There are many but specifically, I would love to thank Nick, Jay, Judy, Eric, Daniel, Kat, Cat, Sean, James, Mike, Genna, Kinslee, and my whole family and COUNTLESS friends. I could never forget all you’ve done for me. ❤️ #danggrateful
Goodbyes just plain suck. All of ’em. To hell with ’em. We weren’t built for ’em. Especially the permanent ones. You know, the ones where you know it will be impossible to see your loved one’s face again, on this earth? Those ones. They freaking bite. When you know that the next time you’ll meet eye-to-eye will be when your journey is complete. And, right then, you have no idea when that day will come and it feels like forever away.
Indefinite goodbyes suck.
Indefinite goodbyes without the hope of reunion suck even more.
I’ve been trying to explain goodbyes to Austyn these last few weeks because she’s gonna be missing some sweet friends of hers very soon. I’m her momma. I want to prepare her. So, I’ve been trying to tell her that, because of our move up North, she won’t be attending her awesome little Montessori school here in Seattle anymore.
Today was her last day. And on the way to school, I tried to warn her again. I didn’t want her to freak out but I didn’t want this day to slip by without her realizing it’s seeming significance. I told her that today there should be long hugs and extra kisses. In my heart, I know that these kids that she’s made into friends and the teachers she’s made into family will fade into the background soon.
But, she didn’t really seem to understand. I know this isn’t goodbye forever necessarily. We hope to visit back to her school a few times in the coming year at least. But, the day to day will be gone. Every day she doesn’t have school during the week this past year, she tells me she misses her “fwends.” I am nervous for the day she tells me this, this coming week. Break. My. Heart.
I’ve never really liked goodbyes. Not to my parents when they left for vacation when I was a kid, not to my friends for summer break, not to my bestie when we chose colleges that were states apart, not to the baby I never got to meet, and DEFINITELY not to my husband when he died of cancer just five years into our marriage. No, definitely not then.
I remember crossing the hallway between our master bedroom and Austyns nursery in the early morning, just hours before Nick would leave this earth. I had been watching his chest rise and fall for the last half hour, not much unlike the past two weeks. However, this time, when I had been awakened by my usual alarm to give him his next dose of pain meds, I noticed right away that something was different. The hospice nurses had warned me that would happen. They told me that his breathing would “change.” I had worried that I wouldn’t be able to tell. “You’ll know.” They had assured me.
And, I definitely did.
It was coming… Our final goodbye. I had spent the last two years saying goodbye to small parts of my husband, small bits of us, and large chunks of me that had been tangled up in him. First it was goodbye to cancer free conversations, then date nights, then grocery outings, then morning coffee, then goodbye to our sex life… Next came goodbye to his lucid words, goodbye to his sound advice and goodbye forever to our flow of conversation. Then, goodbye to his kisses. Goodbye to his voice and then his whispers. It was obvious that this real last goodbye had been a long time coming. And, yet, my heart felt so surprised. Already? We hadn’t had near long enough.
That last night of his on this earth was also the very last night I breastfed our little girl, Austyn. (Last night of breastfeeding because my milk supply cut off the very next day. The stress of losing my husband’s life proving too much for my body to handle along with sustaining my little girl’s life.) I remember wondering if I was nuts to leave Nick alone in that room, but I knew Austyn needed to eat and I had a strange peace that he wouldn’t leave me until I made my way back to his side.
As I crossed the distance between the two loves in my life, angels were with me every step of the way. God was physically present. I felt Him there, in the house. I felt Him in my bones. And, though, I was trembling and heartbroken, peace flooded me like none I’d ever felt. I remember caressing Austyn’s soft little hand as she sleepily drank and letting tears roll down my cheeks as I thought of not only my loss, but hers.
Nick died when Austyn was barely 9 months old. She hadn’t walked yet or talked yet. She hadn’t learned to count. Or ride a bike. It just all felt so unfair. At the very very least, it seemed a girl should have her dad for her first soccer game, for her first dance, even for her wedding. My heart ached for her and shattered for me. Split wide open, right down the middle, for us both.
Looking back now, I realize a silver lining that I hadn’t seen then. The innocence that was preserved in my little girl. Obviously it would have been an immense blessing if Nick had been able to live his life into the years that will eventually reside in Austyn’s memory. But, he didn’t. And so, my sweet girl doesn’t know goodbyes like I do.
As we passed Greenlake for the last time on our way home from school today, she told me something.
“My teacher sad today.” She frowned in the rearview mirror and I longed to see the dimple that shows when she smiles.
“Is she baby? Why do you think?” I asked.
“Because it my last day at school.” She said.
“Yeah. She’s going to miss you, sweetheart.” My girl captured hearts there, even through her terrible twos.
“Yes. BUT!!” Austyn’s eyes twinkled and that dimple appeared fast as her smile grew. “She will feel better soon maybe. Maybe I will give her a hug someday and she will feel all better. Soon, mom. Let’s see! She WILL feel better. Not tomorrow. But SOON!”
My sweet child. My heart swelled with pride and with grief, happy and sad tears threatened to brim.
I know she will miss her friends and her teachers come next week. But, I also know that she will make more friends.
I made a conscious decision long ago, with the help of my God, my pastor, my grief counselor and countless psychiatrists studies, that I wouldn’t share my grief with my little girl. At least, as best I can. I share my grief with you, with the world, with other adults in my life. But, not with her. Not yet. She’s been far too young to understand goodbyes of this magnitude. And, I’m trusting that decision even more now.
Nevertheless, she has surely seen me cry and have hard days. When as a single momma, I just couldn’t keep those tears from falling to the floor.
And, I don’t know if it’s so much that, or just who God has made her to be, but she is honestly one of the most compassionate toddlers I have ever seen. Her heart is on her sleeve and its pure as gold, untarnished. She’s got her bad days, I assure you, but her tenderness and care for others is as plain as day. She puts others needs first, especially if they are having a hard time. She pats backs, asks to kiss boo boos and all around wonders aloud “You doin okay in there?” And, I pray my daughter and this love for others always stays that way. It’s the very best gift she could ever possess.
In all her childlikeness, I realize how very much I strive to be just like her. And, sometimes, I really do accomplish it.
A sweet acceptance that a “someday reunion” is good enough. And, that living life for JOY in the meantime is all there really is to do.
Goodbyes suck. They sure do. But, you WILL feel better. Maybe not tomorrow. But, soon! <3
Sometimes I just sit and let overwhelming AWE flow over me. HOW IN THE WORLD have I been given the love of not only one but TWO amazing men? God’s given me SO MUCH. I have nothing that I can’t look to God and thank Him for. He’s given me LIFE, FREEDOM from the consequences of my sins, and His FOREVER FRIENDSHIP (the greatest gifts of all)! And, as if that wasn’t enough, He’s proven time and time again that He CAN somehow conjure up GOODNESS in the wake of tragedy.
Just this morning, Austyn was pulling apart an orange with her breakfast. “Look, mom! A tiny one!!!” she said as she pulled a small section away from the fruit. “And… Look! A DADDY one!” her eyes lit up as she held a larger piece of fruit out for me to see.
That is THE. FIRST. time she has ever named any bigger “thing” as a “daddy.” If theres a small item and a bigger one… it has ALWAYS been a “mommy one.” That’s because it’s always been just her and I…. A Mommy and a tiny one.
This little girl lost her biological father when she was just 9 months old, a week out from her first step, a year away from her first words… Her world was forever altered before she even knew what her world could have been.
And now, somehow, years later, it seems that our plan includes a second daddy for Austyn. What a lucky girl! An awesome daddy in Heaven and a sweet daddy on Earth! God is just TOO good!
Jay will be adopting Austyn (officially) shortly after our marriage this summer. I can’t put into words the feelings that arise when I hear Austyn call Jay her “Daddy.” As she transitions into having an earthly Father, I ask for your continued prayers over our family, for strength, for growth, for understanding and for beautiful, wonderful unity.
Things are CRAZY good over here. Crazy hard, too, sometimes. Crazy different. Crazy LOTS-to-get-used-to. But, I am loving every second of it!
Wow… You guys… Where do I begin? What do I say? How can I convey to you ALL of these FEELINGS when I can barely identify them myself? Well, I’ll try…
How Did Jay and I Meet?
Jay and I have technically known each other for 8 years. If you haven’t read it elsewhere before… He was one of Nick’s best friends back when I met Nick all those lifetimes ago. Jay and Nick had owned a small business together in college and hung out a lot at work events and at various “guy nights.”
I remember telling Nick when we were dating that I wasn’t too sure about his friend, Jay. I suggested that maybe he might not be the best influence for Nick’s life. But, Nick would go to bat for him EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
“Jay is one of the truest friends I have.”
“Jay is one of the nicest guys I have ever known.”
“Jay is loyal and trustworthy. I won’t ever give him up.”
Jay and I didn’t hang out much because, well, I wasn’t so sure about him. But, Nick hung out with Jay whenever they could make it work. And, Nick ended up choosing Jay as one of his groomsmen in our wedding.
From that point forward, I only ended up seeing Jay a couple of times, though I heard about him and his life often, through Nick.
Fast forward to 3 years ago, when Nick got insanely sick and received his diagnosis of a horrible cancer recurrence. We had just gotten the horrible news and were trying to process all that was happening when Nick got a phone call that contained some very good news! Nick couldn’t wait to share it with me.
“Alyssa, you’ll never guess! You know Jay? He just got saved! He accepted Christ!” Nick’s smile was wide as ever. His eyes glistened with tears.
We high-fived each other and said a prayer of blessing over Jay and his commitment to Jesus. I was truly happy to hear that Nick’s friend’s life was moving in the right direction.
Where “We” Began
So… How did this all begin with Jay and I? Well, I hadn’t seen Jay since Nick’s Celebration of Life in January of 2013. But, this summer, I had asked Jay if we could meet up to discuss local churches. I had recently returned from Florida and was looking for a new church home and was stalking my community for any helpful input anyone might have. I reached out to multiple people in my network over the course of a month or so, looking for the perfect new place to call my church home. It just so happened, that I saw a post from Jay about his church and wanted to know more.
When we met for coffee, we unexpectedly hit it off as friends. We had never said much more than “Hey, how are you?” in the years before, but conversation came so easily this time and we decided that we should get together again soon. This started a great friendship. And, it took me only a little while, but I started to see some of the things in Jay that Nick had seen years ago. And, I began to see other desirable things in him too. His life was on the right track. He had made incredible changes to his life. He was motivated. He was insanely generous (a characteristic that reminds me so very much of Nick). And, much more attractive than I had remembered or ever noticed. (Blush!)
It took some clearing up for Jay of what Nick wanted, of what God says about all of this, and of how I felt about love after Nick. But, eventually, Jay saw me in a new light too. And, our friendship began to develop into something deeper.
Do You Like Me? (Check Yes or No.)
So… On July 14th, Jay brought flowers and, cute as ever, asked me to be his girlfriend. He had come prepared with a list of reasons he thought he would be the best man for me. Ten items were on his list and they were as precious as can be. He included being a good father figure for Austyn as long as we wanted him, leading me ever closer to God, putting our relationship above all others, and other absolutely honorable and perfect things. I said yes (under two conditions: 1. Absolutely No Clown Pranks. (I hate clowns.) And, 2. New Boyfriend Must Kill All Spiders. No exceptions.).
The rest honestly, already feels like history. (He’s kept both of my conditions thus far as well as all of his beautiful promises to me.) We’ve had an amazing 5 months! I know… that seems so fast, huh? But, I guess I’m just the type… When you know, you know, you know?! (Nick and I got engaged back in the day after just 6 months. And, yeah, that was one of the very best decisions of my whole life! DUH. )
Jay and I have spent these last five months doing so very much: learning how we might fit as a family, how we fight, how we love, how to listen, how to hold each other’s hearts and hurts, we’ve traveled locally and internationally, we’ve spent days on end together, met and spent time with each other’s families (including Nick’s family who will forever remain mine), celebrated both of our birthdays, taught Austyn to pee in the toilet (and celebrated accordingly — this was a HUGE deal so potty dances are now a “thing” in my house), and lived the monotonous as well as the adventurous.
He Popped the Question!
I know, I know… you want to know about the engagement!! Well, here it is!
Last night was our official 5 month anniversary. December 14th. Jay had planned a “surprise date night” and I had a guess that a sparkly thing might be on its way, but quickly the thought was dismissed. (We had discussed marriage and so many things related, but I try hard these days not to get my hopes up too high. I’d rather be surprised than disappointed, you know?)
When Jay showed up at my house to pick me up for our date night, he handed me a beautiful bouquet of 18 red roses. GOORRRgeous! We gave our hugs and said our goodbyes to Austyn and my dad (who was over to babysit Austyn for me) and made our way to the car.
Jay opened the door for me as we walked out of the house and ran ahead to get the car door as well. (This is a normal occurrence… He is so good at that!) My sweet guy! We showed up at the Bellevue park and I knew what we were doing for sure… Finally! Ice skating! I’d been wanting to go again for years and had mentioned it before to Jay. “This is gonna be so fun!” I thought. It was the cutest little rink set up right in the pond in downtown Bellevue park. We had hot cocoa to warm up first and then got our skates on and slipped out onto the ice (not so gracefully, BUT we didn’t fall!). As expected, we had so much fun! There were about a hundred people there but we had a blast anyway and we were even able to pull off a couple spins!!
I was starving so we left right after skating and headed across the park to a “mystery” restaurant. (He wouldn’t tell me where.) We walked and talked (at first about Austyn’s latest poopy accident LOL) and then about the last five months and all the wonderful things that have been happening. We slowly made our way up the steps at the North end of the park, hand in hand. It was cold and we could see our breath but luckily, we both had good jackets on. Once at the top of the stairs, I noticed a man playing Christmas music softly on a guitar behind one of the light posts facing the park but couldn’t see his face. It was beautiful and I commented on the fact. “What a perfect night!”
I was honestly still completely clueless. Suddenly, Jay stopped me. We were standing under a tree and Jay pointed up. “Oh, look! Mistletoe!”
I didn’t hesitate or want to miss the chance, so I kissed him immediately. (Duh! He’s so stinking cute and I love him so much! Any chance to kiss and I’m in! 100%!) When I pulled away, I finally started to put two and two together realizing that the smooth Christmas performance and mistletoe randomly hanging from a tree in the middle of the park aren’t really a “normal” thing.
Just then, my suspicions were confirmed. Jay reached his hand into the tree… And, out came a ring box! He got down on one knee and…
You guys… I couldn’t stop jumping from that point on! I was so insanely happy!
His words were perfect, the ring was perfect, and I couldn’t help but feel God was smiling down on us!
I screamed YES with all my heart and kissed him hard!
Just as he stood up and slipped the ring on my finger, I noticed the guitar guy walking towards us. I looked at his face and it registered… It had been one of my best friends, Sean, playing guitar!!! And, he was still playing and singing “Jingle Bells!” Then, out popped Andy from the next light post over, one of Jay’s good friends! And, as I turned to see him, I saw Cat (one of my other best friends, who is married to Sean) come from behind the next pole shaking some actual jingle bells (Seriously. Cuteness.). And, then out came Jacki, Jay’s best friend and girlfriend to Andy!! Oh my goodness! All four of them had been waiting for us to arrive, setting up and then videotaped and photographed the whole thing from a distance. I couldn’t believe it!
I was so surprised and my voice was uncontrollably squeaky as I asked for details and stood in disbelief! It turns out that these two couples, plus some of my family and friends, and many more had kept this secret for a while now! Jay had been planning the proposal for weeks!! Jay had even asked my dad for his permission to ask me to marry him almost a month ago!
My favorite Prosecco was brought out and we toasted and the night wasn’t even out of surprises yet. Jay and I hung back, hand in hand, as I asked him so many questions about the night and our friends led the way.
Jay had gone to great lengths to plan a perfect dinner for right after our engagement. We got to Palomino’s downtown with all our friends and we sat and ate dinner while watching the Snowflake Lane performance on the main stage right outside our window. Jay and Jacki had scoped out the perfect place to eat during Snowflake Lane and it really was! There was snow, christmas lights, dancers and drumming nutcrackers. Seriously magical…. Not to mention, complimentary champagne, appetizers and dessert!!
Seriously… What a night!!!
Now, after all has settled down, and I look back at last night, I can’t help but want to write down every detail. I know I will want to remember last night for the rest of my life. <3
Austyn was incredibly excited this morning when she woke up to see such a sparkling ring on my finger. I FaceTimed Jay into the conversation and we told her what the ring meant. That Mommy and Jay were getting married and that Jay was going to be her new daddy. You should have seen her sweet little face!!! Austyn’s eyes lit up and her smile was as wide as her daddy’s the day he found out he would see his best friend in Heaven again someday. I saw Nick’s smile then, in Austyn’s smile now. And, just, whoa. SO. Many. Feels.
Jay and I both started crying… My goodness. We were just a big sloppy mess of beautiful and joyous tears over here!
I won’t EVER tell you that any bit of sickness or death is a part of God’s plan. Because it is NOT. I won’t ever tell you that there is a REASON for hurt or heartache, pain or disease, broken marriages or lost lives. But, I will tell you… God CAN and DOES work ALL things (the good and the bad) together for ULTIMATE GOOD for those who love and believe in Him.
Two years ago today, I was just weeks away from losing my husband, my very best friend. Today, I rejoice in finding a new best friend to spend the rest of my days on this earth with (God willing).
Nothing will ever change who Nick was to me. Nothing will ever take away from our love. And, no wedding will ever revoke my widowed title to Nick. But, now I am “fiancee” to Jay and I just couldn’t feel more blessed to start planning for the day I become his wife.
I have had the love of two absolutely amazing men in my life and, my goodness, I know I don’t deserve it, but I’m going to enjoy it just as much as I possibly can. <3
Everything that I had hoped for would become impossible.
My husband passed away at 27 years old. We were 6 years into our beautiful relationship, 5 years into our incredible marriage and 9 months into our journey as new parents. And, then, everything just stopped.
He was gone. More than anything he had wanted to stay. I had wanted him to stay. The pull on my soul had, at times, convinced me that my love would hold him here. That God would see our connection, see our entwined hearts and gracefully hand us our miracle.
No such luck.
Fast-forward almost two years later and I find myself, in a crazy turn of fate, in love with one of my late husband’s dear friends. Neither of us would have ever guessed. We hardly saw each other until just four months ago, but Nick and Jay had held a strong bond over the years while Nick was still with us.
This new relationship has been nothing short of romantic, poetic and truly bittersweet, all at once.
At first I was haunted by certain thoughts, certain “what ifs”, certain impossible scenarios…. Such as: “If Nick found his way back to us, what would I do? Who would I choose?”
These questions were starting to drive me insane. Because, here’s the thing, you can’t compare two different loves.
You can’t choose. So don’t make yourself. And, don’t let anyone else tell you that you must.
Last night I had a dream. I was in a white room, white everything. Bright and vivid. Nick, my late husband, was standing in front of me, about 25 feet away, clear as day. He looked beautiful. He was looking past me and said, “You have to choose.” I turned around and 25 feet the other way, stood my boyfriend (Jay) holding my daughter’s hand, and, dear God, they looked beautiful too.
I woke up just after the dream. 4am. It felt like God was telling me that I could choose life, to go on living with the living. To embrace Jay and Austyn, the blessings that I still have on this earth. Or, I could choose to drown in the memory of all that I lost. To let my now-impossible dreams strangle me.
As I thought on it more, I wondered. Was Nick telling me I had to choose him or I had to choose Jay? But, no, it was distinct. So clear. I don’t have to choose between them. I just have to choose whether or not I want to continue actually living my life.
Nick always told me that once he was gone, he would want me to fall in love again. That he wanted me to share my life with another. I refused to listen at the time, but now am happy he told me. A lot of spouses don’t get the chance to discuss it, or jealousy gets in the way, but I honestly think that all of our loved ones who have passed on would only truly want for us to be happy.
I feel like I’m supposed to share this. Like others need to know. So, forgive me but I’m going to repeat myself again. Just gotta make sure we get this straight. Everyone needs to understand this.
WIDOWS DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE.
If you are in the same club as I… If you’ve lost your spouse, your dream, let me urge you to keep away from the unrealistic and insane questions about choice.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CHOOSE between your lost love and a new one.
You DON’T actually even HAVE a choice as far as that is concerned. You can’t go back to your spouse because they are gone. Your only choice is to move forward. That doesn’t mean that you are going to find someone anytime soon or even that you will ever fall in love again.
But, you DO have ANOTHER CHOICE to make. Will you choose life?
Will you choose to move forward? I am.
Moving forward doesn’t mean forgetting. It doesn’t mean that I’ve hardened my heart. Moving forward doesn’t mean I love my late husband any less. Moving forward doesn’t mean I’m over it or over him. It DOES NOT take the pain away. It doesn’t mean losing a part of me. It doesn’t mean losing any part of him. Moving forward isn’t about winning or losing. It isn’t about pulling ahead or falling behind. It’s not about blocking memories, ignoring sad thoughts or rejecting the truth. Moving forward is simply my choice to live again.
All I had with Nick is gone now. I was happy. Then, my heart was broken.
But, suddenly, I’ve realized that everything I thought was impossible, is HERE. NOW. Even though it looks a helluvah lot different than I thought it would…
I’ve walked through dark black valleys, near-drowned in the waves, and split my tired feet to get here. But, I’m moving forward one step at a time.
There’s no “arriving.” Your aim should not be to complete the process labeled “move on.” There is no such thing as grief being “over.”
But, there is LIVING. YOUR. LIFE…
That’s what I’m aiming for and I’m trusting in God as I go. Currently living a fairy tale, another beautifully impossible love story come to life. And, because I know nothing is promised, I’m loving with a very real awareness of life’s fragility. And, I’m determined to soak up as many of these blessings as I can, while I can.
So, what do you think? Have you struggled with these thoughts as a widow/widower? Have you blocked yourself into thinking that your story is over just because your spouse’s life ended on this planet? Comment below or email me at alyssa (dot) magnotti (at) gmail (dot) com.